Do I Get a Local Phone Number with a Hosted PBX and What’s a DID?

Switching from a traditional PBX phone system to a hosted PBX is reasonably seamless.

However, a common question we’re asked by small business owners is, “Do I still get to keep my same phone number(s)?”

Established businesses often have one or more phone numbers published on websites, printed materials, business cards and even vehicles. Having to go through the process of reprinting and changing all of these numbers would be a pain in the butt. Thankfully, that isn’t required.

You can keep your phone number.

Porting Your Number

There are a couple of ways a cloud PBX phone provider can use your same number(s).

The first method is porting your number to the cloud.

If you were a brand new business without a phone number, your virtual phone system provider will provision a brand new number (also known as a DID) for your business. When someone calls this number it routes through your hosted phone system and then rings locally in your office.

As an established business that already has a phone number, you virtual phone system provider must get your current number transferred from your current service into the cloud, so that the same process can occur. It’s very similar to when you switch cell phone providers, only the paperwork is slightly different.

This isn’t an expensive procedure, doesn’t take much time to complete, and we walk you through all the steps to ensure it goes smoothly. You can speak with us during a Phone Conversion Consult to better understand how we will port your number to our service.

You will be able to port pretty much any number, from old-school analog lines to PRI-based DID, and of course other cloud-based VoIP DIDs should be portable as well.

Forwarding Your Number

The second option, albeit ideally only a short term solution, is forwarding your old number to a new DID from your hosted PBX provider.

Forwarding your old number means you will not need to port it.

The downfall is you are now paying for two phone services. This creates an unnecessary expense for phone service you aren’t technically using each month, as well as extra complexity, since there’s now an extra link it the chain that connects your callers to you.

What if I Don’t Have a Phone Number Yet?

No problem. Your cloud phone system provider can provision a DID number for your local area (or, in fact, for almost any area you wish to have a phone number for).

In most circumstances, when you decide to switch providers, you can port the number to another provider (most jurisdictions have laws that ensure you are able to do this). Normally you own your phone number, so you

What’s Next?

Schedule a phone conversion consultation with a representative from ClearlyCore to get the rest of your cloud phone system questions answered. Simply complete the form on this page or give us a call at 877-253-2716.

What is a PBX System? Understanding the Basics about Business Phone Systems

It’s perhaps not a commonly known fact that PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. Most small business owners are accustomed to calling their office telephone system “the PBX”. It allows for call transfers to multiple lines in their office, multiple voicemail boxes, ACD queues, ring groups, etc.

A PBX is a phone system that allows routing of calls to multiple extensions (handsets) in the office without the need for each extension to have it’s own landline from the telephone company. This obviously saves money, but also delivers features you can’t get on a basic phone line.

For most office situations where there are more than a half-dozen people working, a PBX phone system makes sense.

Typically, there will be one main extension handled by a receptionist, who answers all incoming calls and then routes them to the specific staff member. Another option is an Automated Attendant (often called an IVR or Interactive Voice Response), which answers the calls for you, and allows callers to select the extensions or menu options they need.

PBX phone systems provide scalability and flexibility to add or reduce desk phone numbers without having to pay for an entirely new phone line from your local telephone company.

PBX Moves to the Cloud

Traditional (also known as legacy) PBX phone systems ran off of hardware located in your office. There were a series of lines running to each desk phone which connected each line to the main PBX system.

It was this hardware that allowed for the routing and transferring of calls around the office.

In more recent years PBX phone systems have been making a jump to the cloud, where the bulky hardware is located off site and managed by a 3rd party vendor. You pay for access to the the software and hardware, but essentially get rid of almost all equipment that needs to be kept on site.

This move to the cloud has reduced costs for small business, and yet at the same time increased the number of features you get access to.

Switching from a Legacy PBX to the Cloud

The switch from a traditional PBX phone service to a hosted PBX phone system isn’t difficult (especially if your cloud provider has an experienced implementation team). The primary reasons Canadian businesses are changing over are both cost savings and simpler support and maintenance.

Your office may require new, standards-compliant SIP handsets for each extension. Older, proprietary handsets are not usually compatible with virtual PBX services. Fortunately, once you’ve replaced them with SIP handsets, you’ll be able to use them with pretty much any modern telephone system. We can help determine if new handsets will be required during a phone conversion consult with one of our representatives.

If you currently have older PBX hardware in your office the time is right to get rid of it. Opting to go with a cloud PBX service instead of a local on premise PBX means there isn’t much hardware required locally.

When switching to a VoIP PBX the option still exists to have the hardware at your location. For some businesses, depending on size and number of extensions, this can make sense. Speak with one of our representatives to discuss the pros and cons of on-premise vs a fully hosted PBX solution.

Hosted PBX Pricing Demystified for Canadian Small Business

We talk to Canadian small businesses every week who are feeling confused about hosted PBX pricing.

They’ve usually spoken with at least one of our competitors, heard their pitch, and are more confused than before they started learning about this new technology.

After reading this post you’ll have a clear understanding of how Hosted PBX phone systems are priced, what features you really need, and how to decide what provider is the best fit for your business.

The Quick Answer to What Does it Cost?

The quick answer to the question of ‘how much does a hosted PBX phone system cost’ is somewhere between $16 and $40 per user needed in your office.

That price spread varies, and is based on the number of extensions you need, the service provider you choose, and the features available with the service.

You can check out our pricing page here.

Let’s take a look at the different approaches business phone service providers take to pricing their service.

The Bells and Whistles Approach

Some cloud-based phone system providers take the “bells and whistles” approach. Their system has more features than you could possibly list on a single sheet of paper, and the sales representatives are so excited about it you almost feel embarrassed to admit you’re not sure what the heck they’re talking about.

Pricing is justified based on all of the features rather than the actual service being provided and cost savings your business will enjoy.

We’re the first to admit that some features that can be programmed into a virtual business phone system are great! They improve efficiency and productivity.

Then there is a slew of other features that sound fancy, but honestly will never be used.

The solution? Figure out what features are important to you and your business and then ignore the rest.

Aside from basic voicemail and call routing, we’ve found our customers enjoy the find-me follow-me feature, which allows more than one phone to ring at one time until you answer it. An example would be ringing your desk extension and cell phone at the same time to ensure you don’t miss a call.

Custom auto attendants that allow callers to select an extension are also popular as they ensure callers can self-serve and not have to wait on hold for someone to answer their call.

Low-Cost Long Term Contract Approach

This is the pricing approach taken by most of the large telcos. They offer free hardware upfront and a low per line or extension price but require you to commit for 3-5 years or longer.

While it may be attractive today, will you still feel that same way in a year or two? Technology changes fast, and while the software and hardware in place today for hosted PBX phone systems will likely stay put for the next couple of years, it’s never a great idea to be stuck into a long-term contract.

Just look at the smartphone industry as an example. Recent regulations have reduced the length of contracts allowed from wireless carriers in Canada, but prior to this, it was often the case that your contract outlasted your smartphone technology and speed by a year or more.

How Much Does it Actually Cost

Pricing for a Hosted PBX in Canada is most often quoted by the number of phones or extensions needed. If you check out our pricing page you’ll see that all of our ClearNote service packages are based on the number of extensions (phones) you need in your office.

If you needed 6 different phones in your office then you would look at our medium business package at $107.95 per month. That’s no long-term contract or commitment. We have to earn your business every month.

What do you really need?

Most small offices in Canada require a Hosted PBX service that most closely resembles a traditional PBX system providing

  • Auto attendant
  • Automatic call distribution
  • Voicemail
  • Call transfers

New features such as softphones and desktop calling may sound neat, but in all honesty, you and your staff will function just fine by swapping out your legacy PBX phone system for a shiny new hosted PBX phone service.

You’ll cut monthly costs, reduce the amount of hardware you need onsite and enjoy a couple of extra features that were unavailable with a traditional PBX phone system.

After the Sale is Important

Monthly service fees are no doubt important when making a decision on a service provider, however keep in mind that what happens after the sale is arguably just as important.

One of the benefits ClearlyCore offers its customers is unparalleled customer service. As a boutique provider of hosted and on-premise PBX phone systems, our team is better equipped to not only help you before you make your purchase decision, but more critically, we will be there for you after the install is complete, when you’re settling into the new system and need hands-on, expert support during the first few days and weeks..

To determine what hosted PBX plan is right for your office call today, or submit the form on this page to request a phone conversion consult.

On Premise Vs Hosted PBX Phone Systems – What’s Right For Your Office?

The majority of small to medium-sized businesses that we help with their business phone system needs, are looking to get away from having old PBX phone equipment in their office, and instead move to a more streamlined phone system that is housed in the cloud.

However, there are some that still have an interest in an on-premise PBX phone system.

The purpose of this article is to help explain the differences between a hosted PBX phone service versus an onsite PBX phone service, while still using VoIP technology.

There’s a lot of geek terminology that can be used to explain the fine details of how an on-premise versus cloud phone system works, but for simplicity, we’ll stick to the basics.

There are two big questions you need to answer to determine which type of PBX is right for you.

  • How many extensions does your office require
  • Do you mind investing more upfront to save down the road

How Many Extensions

Hosted PBX most often is billed by the number of extensions you require. While the cost per extension almost always goes down as the quantity increases, there is still a cost associated with it.

This is because the service is being maintained and managed offsite by your provider.

With an on-premise PBX setup, adding another line doesn’t incur an additional monthly cost. Although it may require a fee to set up, depending on if you use a 3rd party provider to manage your on-premise setup for you.

If you are in the situation where you require 80, 100 or 200 extensions, the cost benefits of running an on-premise PBX system might outweigh that of a hosted PBX platform.

It’s important to understand if there are extension limits on the hosted or onsite system you’re considering. The Hosted and on-premise PBX systems we setup here at ClearlyCore do not have extension limitations.

Upfront Cost and Management

The setup of an on-premise PBX system requires the purchase of some hardware. The cost will most often be $4000 – $7000 initially to setup(this is just a range less and more expensive costs can be incurred). Also, the hardware and software is then set up at your location, so should something need to be changed either a staff member or 3rd party provider will need to make the change.

A hosted PBX has all of the software installed and managed at your provider’s location. There’s no server hardware installed at your office, and if changes need to be made you can log in to an easy graphical user interface (GUI) or contact your provider for assistance.

With an on-premise PBX you aren’t paying by the extension, as we explained above, so if you require a lot of extensions, the added upfront cost of new hardware and possible maintenance and management of the equipment and software isn’t such a big deal. You’ll be saving by not paying a per month fee per extension which, can mean even bigger savings once the initial equipment cost is recouped.

However, it should be said that Hosted systems receive upgrades automatically from your provider, while an onsite system tends to require periodic software upgrades (and hardware upgrades as older equipment wears out).

What’s the Right Decision For Your Business?

Here at ClearlyCore we help Canadian businesses setup both hosted and on-premise PBX phone systems. One of our co-founders even co-wrote the book on Asterisk, the most popular open source software platform powering on-premise PBX phone setups.

Scheduling a short discussion with one of our team members can often clear up any confusion you have on what is best for you. Give us a call today or schedule a phone conversion consult by submitting the form on this page.

Virtual – Cloud – Hosted PBX Phone Systems are we all talking about the same thing?

In today’s world of “i” this and “e” that, the words cloud, virtual and hosted get tossed around almost interchangeably.

We’re often asked by new customers “What’s the difference between a hosted PBX versus a cloud or virtual phone system for my office?”.

We want to address the question here to help you out as well.

The difference between the three really is…..

Nothing.

Cloud-Based Phone Systems

The term cloud service really means nothing more than a service that is hosted and managed by a service provider offsite from your location.

Services like Dropbox and Amazon Web Services are cloud-based services. They provide you server space and file storage that is not local to your office or computer.

As it is a cloud-based phone system. Your VoIP phone system is hosted and managed offsite on a server managed by your provider.

In this way, the terms cloud, virtual and hosted PBX phone systems can be used somewhat interchangeably.

Where things get a bit cloudy (pun intended) is whether we’re talking about handsets on desks for each extension in your office or softphones on a smartphone or laptop computer?

Handsets Vs Headsets

Most of our customers are changing their office phone service from a traditional PBX hardware system to a software-driven PBX system. Most of them also opt to have us host the software and manage the service for them rather than hosting it locally at their office.

All of our customers also usually have desk phones for each staff member in their office. Like a traditional PBX system, there’s a phone on each desk that staff can receive calls on and call out from.

It is possible with some cloud and virtual phone systems to not have a desk phone. Instead, these systems use an app on your smartphone or application on your desktop or laptop computer to make and receive calls. These applications are called softphones.

When someone calls your extension or office, the app rings, just as if it was a phone, and you answer it either on your smartphone or using a headset plugged into your local computer.

These types of phone systems are flexible in the fact that they travel with you, but many offices prefer the traditional desk phone versus using computers or smartphone apps to receive phone calls. You can of course mix and match both phone types within the one system; we can help you to determine what mix is best for you.

To learn more about how you can save by switching your office phone to a hosted PBX service give ClearlyCore a call today, or submit the form on this page to book a phone conversion consult.

Why 90% of New Offices Opening in Canada are Cutting the Cord with Traditional Phone Lines

Office phone systems have been done the same way for the last few decades. A physical PBX hardware system is installed somewhere in the office and 3, 4 or more lines are connected from the local telco.

It’s the PBX hardware that creates the different extensions as well as traditional office phone features such as voicemail and call transfers between extensions.

This system has worked all well and fine for the past 5-10 years. Lower cost and feature-rich alternatives using voice over IP technology (VOIP) and high-speed internet connections are now becoming the norm in new offices set up across Canada.

Why a Change?

The drawback to these traditional PBX phone systems is they require a 3rd party company to service and upgrade them. This can be an expense of a few hundred to over a thousand dollars per year, depending on what’s needed.

Two biggest reasons businesses switch phone systems:

  1. Monthly cost for phone lines
  2. Cost of equipment updates and service

Also, the cost of the phone lines and any long-distance calling from your telco isn’t cheap.

This has new offices cutting the cord from telcos and traditional PBX phone systems and swapping them for VOIP Hosted PBX phone systems.

In fact, as high as 90% of all new small to medium-sized offices in Canada are opting for a VoIP PBX phone system rather than a traditional landline system for their business.

Virtual PBX Phone Systems

The new technology is often referred to as a Hosted or Virtual PBX phone system.

The word hosted is used because the required hardware is managed (hosted) somewhere else (generally your service provider). There’s no hardware to service locally on your end and no landlines coming into the office from your telco.

As for the phones, everything works the exact same way.

Every employee has a desk phone.

KEY TAKEAWAY

You won’t notice a difference in day-to-day operation between a virtual phone system versus a landline pbx phone system. Call quality and features will be the same. The cost savings are the #1 reason new offices and many established offices are switching to hosted PBX.

Standard office features such as voicemail, call transfer, and auto attendant are built right into the software that runs these virtual phone systems. Because everything is software base, it’s easy to make changes without the need for a service call to a local company to update your PBX hardware on site.

Best of all, the cost is 40-50% less than what you would have been paying for the old system

Where do the savings come from?

Here’s an example of a small business with 4 lines coming into their office and 15 employees (desk phones).

In a traditional landline phone system, you’re paying a per phone line fee each month to the telco plus any additional services or long distance your office may incur.

  • Traditional PBX Phone System
  • $60 per line = $240.00
  • Hosted VoIP PBX System
  • $14.95 per line = $59.60 $5.00 per extension = $75.00 Total = $134.60 per month

$100 or more saved per month adds up pretty quickly.

Plus, when you add in some of the great features built into Hosted PBX phone systems the switch becomes really attractive.

What’s involved with Switching Your Office?

Switching your office phone system to a virtual PBX doesn’t take long. A phone conversion consult is required first to determine what desk phones you currently have and if they’re compatible with newer VoIP technology.

There’s also some basic planning of how many lines and extensions are required, but there is no complex hardware to install.

CONVERTING ISN’T HARD

Converting from a traditional landline phone system to a virtual internet phone system isn’t difficult. You need to determine if your current desk phones will work and determine the number of extensions your office needs. Generally, a conversion can happen quite quickly.

Some small businesses will have their network administrator involved during the initial installation, but once the system is working, everything is managed by the company you choose for your hosted PBX service.

Want to learn more? Download our Cloud Business Phone System Report. In it we cover the 5 Key Factors choosing the right office phone system for your business.

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New Features You’ll LOVE with a Virtual PBX Phone System

Traditions in business are changing with technology.

Social media has opened up a range of marketing opportunities. The internet has brought an age of websites, online shopping, and faster communication. It’s about time for a business phone system to catch up. Virtual PBX phone systems replace the outdated multi-line phone systems offices traditionally use.

A Hosted PBX doesn’t require the clunky physical hardware of the previous business phone systems. Your monthly fees will also cost about half as much! For some, even more exciting than the savings are the new features available with VOIP business phone systems.

Here are a few of the new features.

Find Me/Follow Me

One of the issues of traditional office phone systems was if you weren’t in the office you missed the call. There are times, albeit occasionally when no one is in the office or has time to answer the phone. This creates missed opportunities. A popular feature of new cloud PBX phone systems is called Find Me Follow Me.

This technology allows you to customize what numbers you want to be called when someone dials an extension. So for example, it might mean ringing on the desk phone as well as someone’s cell phone. Or, you can set an order where the desk phone rings first then the cell phone, then maybe another employees phone if no one answers.

There are lots to the find me follow me technology, and it can be set up by schedule (ring certain numbers at certain times) or sequence (ring one person then another then another if no one answers).

Voicemail to Email

In the old office phone systems, voicemails could only be accessed through the desk phone or by dialing in and getting your voice messages that way.

With a cloud-based phone system, voicemail can be sent directly to your email. This allows for easy access to stay up-to-date, even on your busiest days or when you have several errands to run. You can check your email whenever and wherever you need to make sure you don’t miss out on important information or opportunities.

Customized Call Routing

If you have grown tired of the difficulty traditional office phone systems have to transfer and route calls, then you’ll be happy to hear about the different ways you can customize call routing with a new virtual system. R

Route phone calls to a desk phone, a cell phone, software, or a virtual auto attendant.

Auto attendants allow you to give callers the option of who they want to speak with so you don’t have to spend time manually transferring calls. The ability to route calls to a mobile phone allows your office to have mobility and can let you spread your workforce to nonlocal areas or to work-from-home.

A Virtual PBX system is a great step up from the outdated traditional ones. It allows businesses to be more versatile with their communication and have better communication with their customers. You can customize and tweak to get exactly what you need without expensive equipment or added software. Technology is changing business. Let it change how you use your business phone too.

How Much Can You Save Switching to a Hosted Cloud PBX Phone Service?

Savings are the #1 reason small businesses looking to switch from their traditional phone service to a Hosted VoIP PBX service.

In most cases, the monthly fee of a hosted PBX service is at least 40% less than what you currently pay to your local telco, but the benefits extend beyond just savings on your monthly bill.

Flexibility and scalability are two more big reasons why Canadian businesses are making the switch to cloud-based office phone systems.

Here is an example of cost savings for an office with 4 landlines and 15 extensions.

  • Traditional PBX Phone System
  • $60 per line = $240.00
  • Hosted VoIP PBX System
  • $14.95 per line = $59.60 $5.00 per extension = $75.00 Total = $134.60 per month

Total savings in this scenario is at least $105.40 before factoring in long-distance calling and additional features available with a hosted VoIP solution.

Flexibility & Scalability

It’s easy to add another user, change an extension or route calls differently when you have a hosted VoIP business phone system. It’s as easy as sending an email to your provider to make the change.

Beyond simply adding or changing lines and extensions a cloud-based phone system for your business makes you and your staff more flexible.

Features like Find Me Follow Me, which allows your mobile and desk phone to ring at the same time, or voicemail to email makes your workforce more mobile and more productive.

Fewer Service Calls

Most small businesses do require assistance from a network specialist with the initial setup of their hosted VoIP PBX service. Once the system is up and running it works quite flawlessly. If there’s an issue you can always call your VoIP provider directly for technical support, so long as it’s a hosted service (Clearly Core’s ClearNote™ service is hosted).

The first step to savings and increased flexibility from your business phone system is to schedule a phone conversion call with the experts at Clearly Core.

We have happy customers from coast-to-coast in Canada reporting average savings as high as 50% per month after switching to our hosted Cloud PBX solution. Schedule a call today.

Astricon 2017

Astricon 2017

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Astricon, and I don’t know why I don’t do this every year.

Asterisk has a fantastic community, and Astricon has matured into an expertly-run conference, packed full of solid content, delivered by some of the best of the best, with a friendly and high-energy crowd. If you’re in any way interested in Asterisk, this is a must-do event.

This year, I was looking to get a sense of where people’s heads are at with respect to WebRTC, and I wasn’t disappointed. There’s lots of work being done on that front, and while the standard itself is still in development, the open-source community is right there, ready with the technology, in as mature a state as is possible with an emerging technology. I was pleased, and heartened, to experience the skill, professionalism, and downright enthusiasm with which this new technology is being embraced.

There’s a general consensus in technology that voice is dead, but all you have to do is make one visit to Astricon, and you’ll see that just because VoIP isn’t the next-cool-thing, doesn’t mean it’s dead. What energy! What a fantastic crowd!

Astricon gave me a chance to re-connect with many folks I haven’t seen in many years, and I realized that the loss was mine. Going forward, I think I’ll be making Astricon a yearly thing.

The Benefits of an Asterisk Server – Open Source Telephony

Asterisk, the open source PBX, turns 17 this year. Asterisk kicked off a revolution in the telecommunications industry, bringing a level playing field to the then-emerging concept of IP Telephony, and a few years later doing the same for legacy telecom technologies such as Analog and PRI. Asterisk served notice to the old guard that the game was about to change.

Today, Asterisk is the world’s most widely deployed PBX. It is at the heart of the massively successful FreePBX project, and is also used by telecommunications developers throughout the world. Governments, large organizations, educational institutions, small businesses and hobbyists all use Asterisk.

The Asterisk platform allows you to build a telephone application in a manner similar to how you might build a website. It’s simple enough that a hobbyist can have a basic, working system in a few hours of work, but Asterisk is also powerful enough to facilitate large-scale telecommunications projects.

Asterisk helped to usher in standards-based and commoditized telecommunications.

While all this history is interesting enough, it is the future that keeps Asterisk relevant. The evolution of communications continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Concepts such as Unified Communications and WebRTC are still very much up in the air. As new technologies rapidly emerge, it’s critical to have a voice communications platform that can rapidly and logically adapt to an ever-changing landscape.

Perhaps one day some company will dominate the field of emerging communications, and they can then lock everything down and prevent innovation, but that is not this day. How we communicate is rapidly evolving, and getting locked into inflexible, proprietery technology has proven to be an expensive lesson in obsolescense for many companies. Keeping your options open is crucial, and nothing does that so well as an open source platform.

Asterisk remains an important component of The Future of Telephony.